Raiders roster churning continues




The Oakland Raiders opted to trade another young player this week, as 2017 first-round draft pick Gareon Conley was dealt to the Houston Texans on Monday.
The decision to trade Conley falls in line with what has become a trend of Jon Gruden’s second tenure with the Raiders. Since coming back to Oakland in 2018, Gruden has now traded away three former first-round picks: Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper, and Conley.
In an ironic twist, the Raiders will now face Conley this week, as Oakland travels to Houston to play the Texans on Oct. 27. While the Raiders offense, namely quarterback Derek Carr, should be familiar with Conley’s tactics, Conley will also be able to provide valuable insight on the Raiders to his new Texans teammates.
Conley, a cornerback selected No. 24 overall in 2017, was Oakland’s last first-round pick before Gruden took over the following season. In this sense, it’s not all that surprising that Gruden didn’t mesh well with Conley, as Gruden played no role in Conley’s selection. However, when viewed with the additional context of the Mack and Cooper trades, it’s an alarming trend.
The Raiders are clearly building for their Las Vegas debut next season, and the return for Conley will be a third-round pick from Houston that should, in theory, help the Raiders build in the future. But in the immediacy, the move is questionable, especially with Oakland in second place in the AFC West.
Oakland is in position to make a playoff push over the next month, and there’s an argument to be made that trading one of the team’s starting defenders is counterproductive.
When Gruden joined the Raiders, he was given full control of the team’s operation, and he has yielded his power multiple times already. Once Gruden decided to move on from Mack and Cooper, the team moved swiftly to make those respective trades. Now, the trade of Conley makes it abundantly clear that he was not in the team’s future plans.
On the field, the Raiders will now look to rookie cornerback Trayvon Mullen to replace the void left by Conley in the starting lineup.
While many of Oakland’s trades in the past year have traded players for future draft picks, Gruden said the Raiders will make an effort to acquire an impact player before the NFL’s trade deadline on Oct. 29.
“We’re going to try,” Gruden said Monday when asked if Oakland would add a player via trade, according to The Athletic.
Gruden and the Raiders certainly have the necessary draft picks to acquire a talented player, and after dealing Mack, Cooper, and Conley since 2018, that would be a welcoming sight in Oakland.